It began in the summer when a group of scientists decided to give the government a short, sharp lesson on how to use scientific advice in a transparent manner when tackling Covid-19. Once they had done that, the men and women of the Independent Sage organisation intended to disband. But now the group, led by former government chief scientist Sir David King, is considering a move six months after its formation that would allow Independent Sage to fight on for years to come – but with an expanded agenda. This time it is considering a plan to hold ministers to account over a range of issues, including the UK’s attempts to tackle the climate crisis. King has welcomed Boris Johnson’s 10-point climate plan, announced last week, which promised to ban combustion engine sales by 2030, quadruple offshore wind power, boost hydrogen production to replace natural gas and invest £525m in new nuclear power. However, King added that the country would need to be sure that clear scientific advice was used to determine the ways in which we disinvested from the fossil-fuel industry in favour of carbon-free technologies. “This is needed to reverse the established risk of rising sea levels globally over the coming decades which is already threatening to be civilisation’s biggest tragedy,” he said.
Observer 21st Nov 2020 read more »
Matt Ridley: Ten reasons why Boris’s green agenda is just plain wrong. While climate change is a real issue and must be tackled, the prime minister’s 10-commandment plan is not the way to go about it. First, if it’s jobs we are after then spending £48,000 per job is a lot. Second, he misreads how innovation works, a topic on which I’ve just written a book. Innovation will create marvellous, unexpected things in the next 10 years. But if you could summon up innovations to order in any sector you want, such as electric planes and cheap ways of making hydrogen, just by spending money, then the promises of my childhood would have come true: routine space travel, personal jetpacks and flying cars. Third, he is hugely underestimating the cost. Fourth, these policies will not significantly reduce the nation’s emissions, let alone the world’s. Fifth, the plan will make the electricity supply less reliable. Sixth, Mr Johnson is depending on impractical technologies. Ground-source heat pumps can work, though they deliver low-grade heat and can’t cope on a freezing night. Air source heat pumps have not proved so far to be nearly as efficient as promised. Seventh, hydrogen is not an energy source; Eighth, this industrial revolution is anything but green. Ninth, nobody is following Britain’s example. Tenth, while climate change is a real issue and must be tackled, Extinction Rebellion is simply wrong about the urgency.
Telegraph 22nd Nov 2020 read more »
Britain’s ambition to renew its aging fleet of nuclear power plants is losing momentum after the government offered few new details on how it will support additional projects. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s administration set aside £500 million ($661 million) for small modular reactor projects but was silent on support for traditional large-scale plants. The issue gained urgency on Thursday as Electricite de France SA’s announced the closure of its Hinkley Point B reactors two years early. The government’s latest thinking on how to replace its aging fleet of nuclear plants marks a dramatic shift from 2013, when David Cameron agreed to funding for new reactors at the Hinkley Point site with support from China. Since then, relations with China have deteriorated, electricity demand slumped and renewables such as wind and solar farms became much cheaper than new atomic plants.
Japan Times 22nd Nov 2020 read more »